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April 10, 2006

Luis Suarez's Thoughts On Effective & Successful Blogging

When Backbone Media, Inc. launched our new service for effective blogging, SCOUT, we developed 10 tips on how to become an effective blogger. Luis Suarez blogged about the 10 tips in a great post, not only did Luis write about the document but he detailed his thoughts about each tip. I thought it would be great to chat with Luis about blogging and ask a few of the questions from the forthcoming study on success study at Northeastern University.

John Cass: how did you come to start blogging?

Luis Suarez: Sure ! Well, I started weblogging in December 2003 but initially on an Intranet weblog as a way to capture my thoughts to come back to at a later time and share those documents I need to repeatedly share with multiple groups within the organization I work for. Then from there it built in becoming my main method of communication both internally and externally.

John Cass: I really enjoyed reading your post about the ten tips, especially because you commented on each tip

Luis Suarez: Yes, I know. Although I enjoy those posts on Top 10s I actually find it more beneficial when linking into them to add some more into the conversation, to make it more personal. Just linking for the sake of linking is not something that I would think would help understand the reason why you want to link. So when I saw your post I decided to chime in and share what those Top 10 tips would be also relevant for some of the work I have been doing myself on the subject. And I know that has proven to be very successful because I got lots of comments from people, especially via e-mail about how much they enjoyed that reading

John Cass: You have spent some time blogging, and have built a successful blog, what factors do you think have contributed to that success?

Luis Suarez: To me there are a couple of items that I have found over time to be really crucial. Let me list them briefly with a couple of comments:

1). Being constant. People want to read blogs and they want to do so on a regular basis so being constant, have a fixed schedule (daily, weekly, whatever) helps keep people's expectations and get them to come back for more.

2). Be authentic, be yourself. No need to try to imitate others. People will leave right away as soon as they notice that it is not you the one blogging. Build up your own voice and blogging style and stick to it. Regardless.

3). Be honest. Everyone has got a level of expertise on something and when blogging you should stick to it. Admit straight up front if you are not familiar with a topic but when you are say so.

4). Committed. If you want your blogging to succeed you have got to be committed to make it work. You need to lead by example; being there helps others feel they are part of the conversation.

4a). A commitment to make blogging work implies that you are involved in what you are doing. Thus getting involved in the conversations is a key successful item for a successful blogger.

5). And, finally, you need to be passionate about what you write. Passion should be one of your main drivers while blogging. Find a topic you are passionate about and blog it! There would be some good and bad times along the blogging path, so if you have got something that you are passionate about it will make that road a lot easier and much more fulfilling not only for yourself but also for your audience.

John Cass: Do other bloggers in your industry make a negative or positive contribution to the success of your blog?

Luis Suarez: Very much so. In all of my weblogs I am finding out that through time people are getting more and more involvement helping build a sense of community where people are able to get closer with one another and collaborate in a much more efficient and effective way by sharing knowledge in a trustworthy environment.

I have been very lucky because throughout all those couple of years I have been weblogging I have met / known more people through my weblogs than through whatever other collaborative and knowledge tools. And by far! It is all about being part of a group who share a common passion. I have got a passion for KM, Collaboration, Communities of Practice and Social Networking. Then there are other bloggers who share that same passion and believe it or not the blogosphere is not that large, since we have found each other and are sharing our thoughts on those topics we like talking about so much.

John Cass: Does the relationship ever progress beyond blogging, to IM, telephone or in person meeting? If so how does that typically happen?

Luis Suarez: Yes, it does, extend beyond that. In most cases it all starts with e-mail, then you find out you would want to get together, so we jump into IM and nowadays VoIP, and all of a sudden you find yourself collaborating on the same online spaces with the same group of folks and it all ends up closing the circle by being able to meet people in real life, and it feels like you have known them for years.

John Cass: I was wondering if you had an example or examples of posts that produced a lot of trackbacks or comments?

Luis Suarez: Social Network Analysis - Adding Business Value
Weblogging Directly from FireFox - Performancing for FireFox
Changing My Default Web Browser to Something Else More Web 2.0
Making Sense of Social Bookmarking Offerings - vs. BlinkList

John Cass: Well I'd like to know why you thought these posts were so successful in generating audience interest?

Luis Suarez: Well, in principle because if you take a look into the different weblog posts people were sharing their two cents worth of comments and wanted to make a point and engage into the conversation. They had something to add and the fact that my blog is open for commentary really encourages people to come by and place a comment. Those blog posts ended up providing some really good discussions that even resulted in e-mail conversations flowing as well. So they were successful from my point of view in the fact that they sparkled more interactions outside of the blog itself.

John Cass: I noticed the first link is really a discussion between you and another reader, Noel.

Luis Suarez: Yes, indeed that discussion on SNA actually took place in both Noel's and my blog and we actually learned a lot. He had a point opposite to mine by a large margin and in the end through our conversation we came to understand each other's points and see things from the other side. I doubt that would have happened elsewhere than in a weblog.

John Cass: I was wondering have you ever written a post that you thought would get picked up and commented on, but did not?

Luis Suarez: Yes, many! Most of them actually! I always try to create blog posts that would sparkle at least some attention. Till now I think I may have created about 2000 blog posts and a big majority of those were created to sparkle a discussion, but they haven't. And actually over time I have learned to live with that. Why? Because over time I am finding out that through search engines people bump into those blog posts and may comment then, which will then bring the conversation back to life. That is the power of a search engine, imo

John Cass: Is there anything else you think the reader should know in order to better understand what makes for a successful blog?

Luis Suarez: Yes, they would come, not to worry. It is like when you head over to the water cooler and people do not want to talk to you and one day they all want to :) That is how I view it.

I think another key message people would need to understand about blogging is the fact that there may be a lot of hype behind it. We have all seen it, but that same hype is the one that will separate the temporary bloggers for a day for the ones that will go beyond. And perhaps it is the time now for people to decide where they are. Following the hype or wanting to make a difference in the collaborative web we have all been exposed to.

Posted by johncass at April 10, 2006 12:38 PM

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